Plan International and the UK Department for International Development collaboratively developed the Building Skills for Life Programme through a Programme Partnership Agreement. This programme sought to empower adolescent girls and address the challenges they face in accessing quality education in seven countries: Cambodia, Mali, Malawi, Kenya, Pakistan, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. The objectives of the programme were to increase the number of girls enrolled in school and prevent drop out; increase girls’ knowledge of sexual and reproductive health and rights; ensure equality between girls and boys in schools and communities; increase girls and boys participation in school management; and provide material support to enable the most disadvantaged girls to attend school.
A key part of the programme’s outcome monitoring system was piloting child-led evaluations in three of the participating countries: Cambodia, Zimbabwe and Kenya.
The evaluation began with the recruitment of child evaluators (CEs) and an introduction to the objectives of the programme. Child evaluators selected evaluation questions, chose which methods to use to collect and analyse evidence, ran a pilot to review their practices and then ran the evaluation. The CEs facilitated focus group discussions with boys and girls, mother and fathers and conducted informant interviews with community leaders and teachers.
CEs were supported throughout the process by an Enabling Adult Team (EAT) which were responsible for logistics and administrative processes but CEs made all decisions regarding FGD and interview questions, selection of tools for data collection; data analysis; informant selection and presentation of findings.
The evaluation process demonstrated that child-led evaluations deliver valuable insights into programmes when children are adequately supported but that adult programme staff and donors need to build confidence in the use and validity of qualitative evidence and methods used by children.